Every year in Georgia, thousands of people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI), and thousands of people are injured and hundreds die in DUI wrecks. Unfortunately, many DUI offenders try to avoid taking responsibility for their actions by hiring defense attorneys familiar with the system. The criminal consequences for DUI in Georgia are quite severe, and the civil penalty of being found liable for the losses incurred by the victim(s) of drunk driving can bankrupt the defendant. As a result, some defendants will try to place the blame for the accident on someone or something else.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a DUI wreck, you have the right to hold responsible parties accountable. At the law firm of Adrienne P. Hobbs, P.C., I have successfully handled the claims of people suffering the consequences of DUI offenses, and I understand the trauma that DUI victims are experiencing. Let me help you. Contact me today to consult about your case. There will be no charge unless you hire me to represent you.
DUI Laws & Liability
The laws pertaining to DUI (also sometimes known as DWI, or driving while intoxicated) are complex. Most people are familiar with the concept of the “blood alcohol content” or BAC, which can be used to determine whether someone has had enough alcohol to impair his or her driving skills. However, many people who drive drunk or impaired by drugs refuse to have their blood alcohol tested when a law enforcement officer stops them, or their BAC is not measured until long after the traffic accident. The BAC data can also be challenged by a skillful defense attorney.
In some DUI cases, an additional factor is the potential liability of an establishment such as a bar, restaurant, or sports stadium that serves liquor. This “dram shop” area of the law pertains to circumstances where such an establishment may have knowingly served an individual too much liquor, after which the individual caused harm to others while driving under the influence. Sometimes, the liquor-serving establishment is found liable for the victim’s losses and must pay a portion of the verdict (or pre-trial settlement) to the victim.
Victims of drunk or drugged drivers may have to deal with extensive property damage, huge medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost income, and perhaps the wrongful death of a loved one. DUI victims are often angry, confused, and anxious about the future. The shock of having their lives suddenly thrown into turmoil is a heavy burden to bear, and the unfairness of what has happened to them is difficult to deal with.
Fortunately, victims of DUI wrecks have legal rights and may be able to recover compensation for their losses and suffering. If you or someone you love has suffered the devastating effects of a DUI wreck, you do not have to suffer without help. At the law firm of Adrienne P. Hobbs, P.C., I look forward to helping you restore your life.
Contact me today to arrange a first consultation at no charge unless you hire me to represent you and I recover money damages no your behalf.
What To Do if You Are in a Motor Vehicle Wreck:
- Stop your vehicle and assist anyone who might be injured;
- Call the police;
- Identify yourself to the other driver and get the other driver’s identification;
- DO NOT admit responsibility or liability for the wreck if you have any doubts. The determination of fault is not always as clear as it may seem. A police officer is not an eye witness to the wreck; and sometimes, it is necessary to go to court, where a judge can hear the evidence and render judgment about who is at fault.
- Look for witnesses and get their names and addresses. If you do not get contact information for witnesses at the scene, it is unlikely that you will ever be able to locate these witnesses in the future. This can be very important in some cases. Do not merely rely upon the police officer to list all witnesses. Just like in any profession, some folks are better at their jobs than others.
- Take notes. If you can’t take notes at the scene, take them as soon as possible after the wreck. If you are not able to write, ask someone else to do so, if you are able to. Memories fade easily, especially in a trauma situation. Sometimes reactions of people at the scene can be very important later, whether it is something that the person says or does. Evidence of cellular telephone use , text messaging or other distraction to the driver may be especially useful;
- Photographs. Try to obtain photographs of the vehicles involved in the wreck from both a distance and closer up. It is helpful to take pictures from a distance to get a picture of the entire scene. It is also useful to get photographs of the damage to both vehicles. Photographs of skid marks, liquor bottles, beer cans or bottles, drug paraphernalia, or other evidence that could be useful to prove liability and/or punitive damages in your case may also be important, especially in the event that the evidence will disappear before you can hire an attorney to investigate the scene;
- Leave the scene only after you have assisted any injured people at the scene to the best of your ability and after the police have made their report and you have identified the other driver(s) and obtained their names and addresses and the names and addresses of any witnesses. In some jurisdictions, you are required to move your vehicle in order to not block traffic. Safety for you and others on the roadway is the most important concern. If the property damages are relatively minor and you can do so safely, move your car to the side of the roadway;
- IF YOU ARE HURT – SEE A DOCTOR. You should always see a physician for a physical examination after a wreck. Serious injuries do not always become immediately evident, especially a head injury or internal bleed. In the event of damage to your soft tissues, which can cause neck and back pain, you may not feel pain for up to a week or so after the wreck. You should consult with medical professionals after the wreck, but if you did not, and you feel any pain or notice anything unusual, see your doctor immediately;
- Call your insurance agent to report the wreck. As soon as possible after the wreck, you should call your insurance representative and notify him or her of the wreck. Some insurance companies may attempt to deny any obligation to pay any benefits if you do not notify them promptly.
REMEMBER. You should not accept responsibility for the wreck at the scene if you have any doubt about your fault. There is ample time after the wreck to find out who is at fault. If anyone makes a claim against you, you should refer them to your insurance carrier. If you are served with a lawsuit, immediately contact your insurance carrier and forward those papers to your insurance company by certified mail or delivery that requires a signature. Discuss the claim being made against you only with your insurance adjuster or attorney. Do not speak to the attorney or adjuster for the other side on your own. If your limits are not adequate for the claim being made against you, you may wish to consult a lawyer in addition to the lawyer provided by your insurance company, since the insurance company lawyer may have a conflict of interest in its representation of you and your insurance company.
IF YOU ARE MAKING A CLAIM OR EVEN CONSIDERING MAKING A CLAIM, YOU SHOULD CONTACT A LAWYER. The sooner you call, the better off you will be. Your lawyer can take over communications with the adjusters and attorneys representing the at fault driver, and gather your medical records, medical bills, proof of lost wages, and any other evidence needed to prove your claim. A lawyer acts as your advocate and is in a much better position to evaluate the non-economic value of your injury claim than the folks on the other side or you, especially if you are recuperating and trying to get back on your feet.